Album Review: Death Grips – Year of the Snitch

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Artist: Death Grips

Album: Year of the Snitch 

Genre: Industrial Hip Hop/Experimental 

Rating: 8/10

 With a band like “Death Grips,” a band that have built a career on abrasion and dark subject matter, there’s a high risk of becoming a gimmick. Sure their music is brilliant and one might even say they’re the most important band of the decade, but there’s always that chance that a band like this can succumb to expectations and tropes they have created for themselves, but as the band have proven plenty of times in the past, they really don’t care about satisfying their fanbase. Their new album Year of the Snitch is further proof of that. After years of reinvention after reinvention, the band have yet again reinvented themselves. Sure this is unmistakably a “Death Grips” album, it’s noisy as Hell, and MC Ride continues to deliver aggressive and paranoid vocals with cryptic lyrics that are nearly impossible to decipher, but this is surprisingly their most Experimental and bizarre work yet. If their previous album Bottomless Pit was the band going back to the basics of their debut The Money Store, then Year of the Snitch is the band expressing to us all that this is a second incarnation of themselves. This album is a sinister odyssey that will leave the listener uneasy and confused. There are “A Clockwork Orange” sounding synths all throughout this album, and at times it even sounds like the band is being possessed by “The Residents.” Oh yeah this album is bizarre, and it is glorious.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 06/27/18

Album Review: Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch

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Artist: Nine Inch Nails

Album: Bad Witch

Genre: Industrial Rock/Experimental 

Rating: 6/10

 Judging from recent interviews with Trent Reznor, it’s pretty evident that the guy has become a bitter old man, but luckily for him, bitterness and anger have been “Nine Inch Nails’” Forte since day 1, so the anger and blatant nihilism of his new album Bad Witch is unsurprising. This is both a good and a bad thing. The good being that the furious delivery and negative perspective on the human condition over chaotic “Industrial” heavy production is genuine and believable, and doesn’t come off as a man trying to relive his glory days, but the bad thing is that this album is back to business as usual, and at this point “Nine Inch Nails” have become predictable. This is ironic seeing as how Reznor and now official member Atticus Ross completely scrapped the original drafts of this album for being “too predictable.” Though the addition of saxophone is unlike anything “Nine Inch Nails” have done in the past, the whole thing is obvious Blackstar David Bowie era worship, and it is not even close to being as captivating as Bowie’s album. At this point, the band is in desperate need of reinvention.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 06/27/18

 

Death Grips Announce Release Date for Upcoming Album “Year of the Snitch”

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The wait is finally over. We now have a release date for Death Grips’ upcoming album Year of the Snitch. It will be released on June 22nd, which is just around the corner. The band have also shared another new track off the album titled “Ha ha ha.” You can listen to the track below:

HMLTD Announce New E.P. and Share Music Video for New Track “Pictures Of You”

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After a string of incredible singles that pushed the boundaries of Post-Punk, Art Rock, Experimental Music, Pop, Art Pop, Electronic Music, and whatever the Hell else they feel like making, South London band “HMLTD” have garnered quite the following, a following of fans who have patiently waited for a full-length album. Well, we won’t be getting a full-length just yet, but the band will release a five track E.P. titled Hate Music Last Time Delete on July 6th. The band have also released a new track off the upcoming E.P. titled “Pictures Of You,” and it’s also got a pretty disturbing music video to accompany it. You can watch the video below:

The Emergence of Screaming City

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An interview with an emerging artist from an unassuming place

 California is an interesting state. It has it’s fair share of entertainment, sunny weather, and, well… crime, and depending on which city you’re in, you can either have a nice day soaking up the sun, or you can experience the joys of road rage. Nevertheless, it’s home for many of us. It’s hard not assuming that non-Californians picture scenes from the movie “Point Break” when they hear the name California, but what non-Californians have no idea about is a place called “The Central Valley.” A place where if you you did try soaking up the sun, you’d probably end up getting skin cancer. The Central Valley isn’t exactly known for it’s music or art culture, but it is known for it’s agriculture, so you’d have more of a chance seeing cornfields than seeing your favorite band perform. That’s not to discredit the music and art scenes we do have though, there are numerous creative types pushing through and creating art in a place where art isn’t as valued as it is in the bigger cities. The majority of these artists reside in Fresno, CA, but a smaller city called “Visalia” has a number of artists striving to get their names out there. One of these artists is Trip Logic. Trip Logic is a multi-instrumentalist who has been making music for years now. He’s also a DJ, a rave enthusiast, and a songwriter. He’s been in numerous bands, but it’s his new project “Screaming City” that truly features his heart and soul. Trip is the sole member of “Screaming City,” producing all of the instrumentation and providing all vocals. He just recently released a new E.P. titled Replay, and this E.P. features a hybrid of different genres, but his love for “Electronic” music is evident, but instead of emulating any genre, he’s creating some of the most innovative “Electronic” music I’ve heard in awhile. I had the pleasure of interviewing Trip in his Visalia home, and we talked a lot about his creative process.

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Steven: First off I wanna say i’ve listened to your new E.P. Replay numerous times and it’s very good. Congratulations on the release. You released the E.P. on “Bandcamp”, but will this be available on all streaming platforms?

Trip: Yes it will. There’s a slight story behind that. I had set a specific date to release that. It was supposed to be May 11th, but to the extent of digitally distributing music, as well as physical distribution is on a whole other level, so what I did was I uploaded the E.P. on my “Bandcamp,” and this version is my original production without mastering and it’s available for free. Once the physical copies come in i’m going to upload the mastered copy and that’s going to be priced at around five dollars, and that’s when it will be distributed to “ITunes”, “Spotify” and everything else from there.

Steven: Now the E.P. has a myriad of different influences. It’s very “Electronic,” but I also hear elements of “Post-Punk,” “Rock,” and “Darkwave,” but what’s impressive is that even though you can hear these influences, you’re in by no means emulating these genres, which leads to this music being hard to categorize. When you made this E.P. or when you create any music is it premeditated? Do you go in with a certain sound in mind or does it all come about organically?

Trip: Everything is very much organic. It happens almost as an instance. There’ll be two different ways how i’ll try to write music. One way will be just to straight-forward attempt to create a piece and that piece will take so long to create, and if I like it i’ll still use it but it’ll just take a long time. Other times in moments of inspiration it just happens. Those happen over night, and typically those songs are the ones that people like the most. On this next release, the one that i’m currently working on titled Delirium Boy, the track “Kicking On The Creep” happened pretty quickly. From the first release “Summerland” was written in one night, and in a matter of hours that whole track was written and recorded. It’s pretty much just a daily thing. I don’t know when i’m going to make music or what it’s going to sound like when I do. I’ll just find myself in that area.

Steven: On your “Bandcamp” there’s a genre tag that says “Genre Fluid,” which is great by the way. Can you elaborate on what that means exactly?

Trip: [Laughs] That was kind of a joke. It was meant to be ironic, which i’m sure it comes off as. I’m not against anything or anybody. I feel like whatever you are, who you are, and what you make is it’s own thing. It doesn’t have to fall into any form of previous existence, so if i’m creating something, even if it’s the same genre or if you do identify as whatever gender that fell before you, that doesn’t make you that just because you are a brand new existence, and every creation is, and it should be viewed that way.

Steven: As for the lyrical content i’ve noticed that there’s a recurring sense of melancholia, but some of these lyrics are cryptic and a little open for interpretation. Would you prefer people have their own interpretations of these songs or is there a specific meaning you’re trying to convey?

Trip: As for hidden meanings or symbolism, anything about that will be straight-forward. For the music I want the audience to decipher at will whatever they can take out of that. I want that to be as unique as the creation process. With each individual listen, whoever hears my music, whatever they feel from it, that shouldn’t be tainted with something that I say. That’s how I feel about that, and if there is another meaning i’ll be pretty forward about it.

Steven: Yeah that’s what’s so cool about music. People can analyze and interpret it any way they want. Even if there’s a straight-forward meaning to it, it can still mean something totally different to someone else.

Trip: Yeah just because I had an experience in my life that made me write that doesn’t mean that that’s the only spot that puzzle piece can fill in for someone. It shouldn’t be limited.

Steven: The track “Two Rings” is the only track where you don’t provide lead vocals. Who sings on that track?

Trip: That track has Daniel Murphy on lead vocals. So, “Screaming City” started with the two of us. We ended up writing a few lyrics together, on “Two Rings” definitely, and there’s a keyboard part on this next E.P. that has been written and performed by Daniel Murphy as well, but he’s going to be taking a step back and i’m taking on full reigns of “Screaming City.”

Steven: Yeah it’s the second track, and it transitions from the first track well. All of the E.P.’s tracks transition perfectly into each other, and it’s almost like one big song.

Trip: Yeah I really appreciate that because that calls back to my previous musical experience which was DJing. I was a local DJ here in town. I played at venues like “The Cellar Door,” I played some shows in Fresno, and underground parties, so just having that flow within music is essential to me. Which is kind of why i’ve taken the whole aspect of releasing just E.P.s instead of setting out major time frames for an LP, because everything happens so fast, and transitioning music needs to flow but you have to know when to end that flow.

Steven: Yeah it’s interesting because each track flows perfectly into the next, so you can listen to it in one sitting and it’ll come off as like one entire track, but you can also listen to each track individually and it won’t throw off the flow of the E.P. That’s what I like is that each track has it’s own life and it’s own personality.

Trip: Two different experiences definitely can be taken from the same track. That’s one thing that goes into play with everything else said previously. If you listen to just the song itself you’re going to feel something that has some sort of meaning or message, but if you listen to the E.P. as a whole it may come off even more detailed or just abstract, and I don’t want to be one to limit that. As no one should.

Steven: So when writing music does the instrumentation come first or do the lyrics come first?

Trip: Definitely the instrumentation. Sound is everything. Lyrics are predominately last and all of my musical endeavors have always been about the sound. I’ll start recording and then i’ll play it back and listen and i’ll actually hear pieces that aren’t there, and i’ll just go back and add those until it all sounds like how it originally had sounded inside my head.

Steven: So you just build and build on top of each idea?

Trip: Yeah I could pick up a track that I hadn’t worked on in awhile, and then if I hear a new sound i’ll just go ahead and add that, because it’ll be basically an auditory hallucination [laughs] so you guys get a welcome to my mind. It’s a safe place.

Steven: It is a safe place. It’s very dark, it’s very melancholy…

Trip: but it’s safe

Steven: but it’s safe yeah [laughs.] Alright, on the closing track “Write Beside You” there are frequent moments of meta and satire. Especially with the chorus being almost anti-chorus, being self-referential and poking fun at song structure, but that in itself is a catchy chorus. Is this a metaphor for something, or is there an underlying meaning?

Trip: See, it’s hard for me to choose what to say that doesn’t limit what you get and deconstruct from it. The way the whole track was recorded and everything that went into the making of it was 100 percent real. That’s life. That was a conversation I had with somebody, so that’s why the lyrics are like that and the title is “Write Beside You,” and as I was recording I heard this guitar part, so I started making this guitar part that comes in at around the time where the acoustic drums come in towards the middle of the song. Especially the ending, when I was recording the first guitar part that I heard in my head a string broke, so I grabbed the string and started sliding it against the other strings and started picking at it by itself giving it more tension and just broke it again, and that’s the sound that you hear, so that song is music that’s made with anti-music, not trying to make music, it’s just what had happened.

Steven: So it’s kind of like the whole “Industrial” approach to making music. Rejection of traditional song structure.

Trip: Right, but not as an attempt or as focused at destroying song structure, because i’m not going out to do that. It’s just that if that happens i’m going to allow it to show.

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Steven: So this version of Replay is a re-working of a previous E.P. you released, and the improvement is definitely noticeable. There’s a lot more added to these songs. What made you come to the realization that you had to re-work these songs?

Trip: The original release never truly felt like I had accomplished or achieved the goal that I had from the beginning, so just getting the chance to re-work that, especially not having a label that’s constricting or confining me in anyway, i’m able to do whatever I want, so I told myself that if i’m not happy with that then i’m going to go back and re-work it until I am, and i’m not going to move on until it is complete. The older versions are still listenable, but against the new versions these are how they sounded to me the whole time without having to rush it. During the first release I was also going to school a lot more and had other focuses in life. I wasn’t as committed to it as I am for Replay, and I think that’s what was missing, the level of dedication.

Steven: So are you happier with this version?

Trip: I’m completely happy with it, which is what I was hoping to feel with the first release, so just to know that there is that endpoint is great for me. Now I can focus on something else and not have to worry about something never coming to fruition.

Steven: Yeah even though I did enjoy that older version, I do like this new version a lot more. There’s a lot more detail, it’s a lot more polished, and I can tell that it was necessary to re-work it.

Trip: Thank you.

Steven: Aside from “Screaming City” you’ve DJd at numerous events and are in touch with Rave culture, and it’s interesting because your own music is completely different from that, and it isn’t exactly something you’d hear at a rave. What makes you find solace in creating that music as opposed to creating full-on Electronic music?

Trip: Honestly it’s the emotion that I had missed. When I grew up that’s the kind of music that I listened to. I found home in darker environments. I just want to be able to feel comfortable and exist in that world. I mean I love “Rave.” It was a part of my life for a long time. I still love it. I still love all of the people. The “Screaming City” shows are going to be revolved around the aesthetics of “Rave” culture. That part isn’t getting lost. I still love everything that glows, and i’ll still take your candy and i’ll still trade you for it.

Steven: Yeah it’s not like you’re completely abandoning “Electronic” music. It’s still very “Electronic,” but it’s also very innovative and it’s forward thinking.

Trip: Don’t be scared to evolve! Don’t be scared to show emotion. There’s one emotion that was depleted for so long. Now it’s just being happy, and since the music allowed you to be happy for once, let’s see what music is like to be able to feel other emotions

Steven: Alright now you don’t have to answer this next question [Laughs]

Trip: Oooh I like a challenge [Laughs]

Steven: So the E.P. has different elements and different styles, and a lot of it has some pretty heavy guitar riffs, which in a way references “Rock” music. Now this is a subject I find interesting and I like hearing different musician’s perspectives on it. How do you feel about this idea that the mass media and major music publications are pushing that “rock is dead?”

Trip: I find that amusing because I don’t think it’s dead at all. I feel like just because we’re in an Electronic age that everything has shifted. There’s still an Electronic version of “Rock” that needs to be found, which is what i’d like to say i’m working towards. The Electronic version of “Rock.” Just because everything is digital now and not analogue. We have electric guitars, we have Electronic sound, so let’s make it “Rock.” Why not? Turn it up! Rock & Roll, well not Rock & Roll, Rock & loops. Yeah, drugs and Rock & Roll. I’ll say that [Laughs] I mean sex is cool too. I like sex too, but yeah it’s like who are you to kill that tree? Who are you to say this is dead? Be the one to bring it to life again. Create your version of it. That’s what I try to do with “Screaming City,” take everything into consideration. You don’t like something? You think it’s dead? Change it! Oh you don’t like the clothes you’re wearing? Well then modify them. Alter them. You don’t like the music you’re listening to? Create something. You don’t like the way you’re talking? Develop your own God damn language I don’t care! Just don’t sit around and accept something.

Steven: Well i’m glad you answered that [Laughs.]

Trip: Well thank you. Thank you for your time.

Steven: Alright you and I both live in Visalia, a town that’s not exactly known for culture or artistry. We have a lot of artists here, but not a whole lot of people that appreciate the scene or put importance on artistry. Do you find it hard being an artist in a place that doesn’t value art?

Trip: I do and that’s exactly what I hope every endeavor that I try to get involved with changes. I wish it were a place where there was no fear of being an artist, or being different, or liking what you like, so that’s what we’re trying to do here, that’s what we’re trying to do with the label, give artists a chance to achieve some type of dream. Yeah we’re not going to get you famous or anything like that, but your work will be solidified in this physical earth. What you make does matter. Everybody matters so it’s time to exist that way.

Steven: Yeah many Visalians believe that if you want to pursue a career in the arts you have to move out of Visalia.

Trip: Why?! Let’s just make it here.

Steven: Yeah do you think that’s true or do you think that it’s time to build something here?

Trip: I definitely think that it’s time to build something here. I think that the people who used to live here came here because it’s a safe place to build a family and raise children, but those kids are grown up. I was one of those kids. I used to hate living here because there was nothing here. There was no culture, there was no counterculture, there was no subculture here. Not that I found anyway, except for in rebellion I guess, but that was still very distant. There was nothing that was home about that. It was home in an existential aspect, but it wasn’t my city. I didn’t live there, so what we’re trying to do here is make it that way. So once we do get all the E.P’s rolling out and there’s no issue, and we find out what needs to be taken on to do that and to make these releases and who to market them too, that’s when we’re going to take on more artists and talent for “ESP Records.” So kids out there we will be accepting demos! Pick up your guitars, your synthesizers, your laptop, whatever, make it Rock. Make sounds. Make something, because we’re here. We’re not going anywhere.

Steven: So what’s next for “Screaming City?”

Trip: Delirium BoyDelirium Boy is the next E.P. and I am in delirium as we speak. I am delirious.

 

Replay is now available on all streaming platforms

 

https://screamingcity.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/screamingcity/

 

 

 

Album Roundup

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With so much music being released constantly, it’s hard sometimes for an aspiring music critic with a day job to cover every single new album with a full length and in depth review (Trust me i’m trying!) Especially since this year has already been an incredible year for new music, so here is a roundup of new releases that I enjoyed but didn’t have a chance to review.

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Artist: The Voidz

Album: Virtue

Genre: Experimental Rock/Lo-Fi/Indie Rock/Post-Punk/Synth-Pop

Rating: 9/10

Julian Casablancas is mostly known for being the lead singer of “The Strokes,” the band that was often regarded as the leading force in the “Garage Rock Revival” movement in the early 2000’s, but in recent years Casablancas’ eccentricity and wide array of musical influences have transcended the “Pop Rock” category “The Strokes” have fallen into. This is all thanks to his new band “The Voidz (F.K.A. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz.)” Following the band’s 2014 debut Tyranny, their new album Virtue features even more diversity and unpredictability as the band charges through various genres with oddball antics, lyrical content rich in existentialism and politics, and beautiful melodies, and even though it’s easy to spot which genres the band pulls from on each track, the band by no means emulates anyone, instead this vast mixture of genres results in “The Voidz” fully developing their own hybrid of sound. It’s the sound of “The Voidz,” and it is glorious.

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Artist: Halfway Good

Song: Letter To A Friend

Genre: Alternative Rock/Indie Rock

Visalia, CA based “Halfway Good” have been working hard on new music and on their unpredictable and often hilarious podcast. Our first taste of new music following the band’s debut full-length album Arts and Crafts is the acoustic driven “Letter To A Friend,” and it’s an uplifting number with a catchy as Hell and sing-a-long-able chorus. It’s a reminder that no matter how much of a struggle you’re going through with whatever roadblocks or curveballs that are obstructing your progress, it’s important to remain optimistic, because that optimism can drive you to better the situation. Whether or not this track is about a specific person is unknown, but this song is delivered in a way that sounds like the band is talking to all of us, and in a world now where even some of the best music delves into melancholia or cynicism, it’s nice to hear something truly uplifting.

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Artist: Jack White

Album: Boarding House Reach

Genre: Blues Rock/Garage Rock/Funk/Spoken Word/Hip Hop

Rating: 8/10

Despite the ramblings of Jack White in recent interviews that can make anyone who despises pretentiousness cringe, Mr. White’s immense talent and genius still shows greatly in his music. His new album Boarding House Reach features the most interesting and innovative music in his solo catalog. This album finally reflects the eccentric persona White projects to the public with it’s experiments with genres one would normally deem unlikely when it comes to White’s music, and following his “Dad Rock” dominated music he’s been creating for years and years, it’s about damn time he lets his bizarre side shine.

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Artist: Johanna Warren

Album: Gemini II

Genre: Folk/Indie Folk/Acoustic

Rating: 7/10

Johanna Warren definitely does not write the kind of “Jimmy Crack Corn” Folk music you can sit around the campfire and sing along to, but the beautifully melodic and heartfelt music she has created on her new album Gemini II with it’s infectious guitar picking and atmospheric sound textures offers a gorgeous backdrop to the angsty and at times dark lyrical content. It is evident that singing her sorrows is very therapeutic for her, and hearing her sing with such sincerity and passion is a great experience.

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Artist: Car Seat Headrest

Album: Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)

Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock

Rating: 7.5/10

Following an incredible debut record for a major label like “Matador” and much critical acclaim, going back and re-recording an older “Bandcamp” album may seem like a bold move. Especially since the older version with it’s Lo-Fi sound and DIY aesthetic is what garnered much of the band’s fans and attention in the first place, but now that lead songwriter Will Toledo is backed by a full band, and now that he revealed that he finally knew how to finish the record 7 years after it’s release, it was clear that Toledo knew what he was doing, and the result of this re-recorded version of the beloved “Twin Fantasy” is proof that re-recording it was very necessary. This new version is cleaner, it’s tighter, it’s punchier, and improves on the many interesting ideas the original version had, and somehow Toledo sounds even more passionate when singing these songs 7 years later. Many of us are dying for new material, but this re-recorded version of “Twin Fantasy” is a real treat for old and new fans alike.

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Artist: Preoccupations 

Album: New Material

Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock/Gothic Rock

Rating: 8/10

“Preoccupations” don’t really break new ground with their new album New Material, but the band’s ambition to create uncompromising “Post-Punk” with a gloomy flavor that reflects some of the best “Gothic Rock” of the 80’s drives this record to success. With it’s minimal but hard hitting instrumentation, reverbed walls of sound, and poetically nihilistic lyrics, this album contains all of the best elements of “Post-Punk,” and it solidifies this new scene of “Post-Punk” bands keeping that spirit alive.

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Artist: Harm’s Way

Album: Posthuman

Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore

Rating: 7/10

With a band like “Code Orange” changing the landscape of “Metal” with their incorporation of outsider genres into the very one-dimensional genre of “Metalcore,” it’s nice to go back to the sound that inspired the band in the first place, and Chicago’s own “Harm’s Way” definitely know how to deliver that sound. The band is fine with what many people label a “corner,” and they run with it creating the most aggressive and violent sounding “Metal” today.

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Artist: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Album: Dirt

Genre: Experimental Rock/Progressive Rock

Rating: 7/10

Canadian collective “Yamantaka // Sonic Titan” are known for their theatrical and almost cult-like live shows, and their studio albums carry that same weight. Their new album Dirt is back to business as usual with their rollercoaster of emotions jumping from atmospheric and dreamy to heavy and sinister, and it’s an artistic experience that has no limits.

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Artist: Anna von Hausswolff

Album: Dead Magic

Genre: Experimental/Drone/Post-Metal

Rating: 7/10

Swedish musician Anna von Hausswolff has never had an interest in writing traditionally structured and straight-forward music, but her new album Dead Magic is easily her most accessible release, but don’t let that fool you, this is still a drony and highly experimental album, but it’s a lot brighter this time around, and when those unexpected sinister moments appear with her screeching vocals and almost “Doom” like guitars, it adds a lot to the intensity as opposed to some of her previous material which features a consistent dark tone all throughout.

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Artist: A.A.L (Against All Logic)

Album: 2012 – 2017

Genre: Deep House/IDM

Rating: 7.5/10

Producer Nicolas Jaar never fails to express the artistic and innovative merit “Electronic” music has with his compositions that are more headier than they are danceable, and with his new album under the moniker “A.A.L (Against All Logic)” he also proves that danceable four to the floor music can be experimental. He does this by providing music with numerous samples, clever production techniques, and soulful and at times Jazzy backdrops. This is an “Electronic” album for a thinker.

 

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 04/03/18